Transformers Devastation Review (XONE)

Transformers Devastation screen 1
Transformers Devastation screen 1. Activision
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From the moment it was first announced, Transformers Devastation has had seemingly everything going for it.  Made by action game masters Platinum Games.  A gorgeous cel-shaded look.  And, most importantly, it uses the classic Generation 1 era Transformers from the '80s.  How could they go wrong?  Thankfully, Transformers Devastation is pretty fantastic in all of the areas that really count with great gameplay and perfect presentation, but is let down a bit by perhaps not being ambitious enough and its pretty short on content.

  Still, for die hard Transformers fans and gamers who love Platinum Games, Transformers Devastation offers plenty to be happy about.  See our full review for more. 

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Activision
  • Developer: Platinum Games
  • ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros:  Awesome graphics; great sound; amazing soundtrack; fun combat system; 5 playable characters
  • Cons:  Short; repetitive environments; poorly implemented crafting system

Features

Transformers Devastation's story features a nefarious plot by Megatron and his Decepticon cronies to use an ancient Cybertronian ship that crashed onto Earth to "Cyberform" the planet, killing all of the life on Earth but making it into a new Cybertron.  Optimus Prime and the Autobots, naturally, have to stop them.  The story plays out more like an extended episode of the TV show than something truly big and epic, but there is a certain charm to that.

  The best parts of G1 are the multi-part story-heavy episodes anyway (and not the 60-or-so filler episodes, yeah, G1 has a lot of garbage in it too) so emulating that feel and tone in the game was smart. 

At least, that is what you'll try to convince yourself that was their intention considering the game is only 4-5 hours long.

  It is pretty darn short, and the pacing is a little off as well.  The game has a very Japanese action game pacing to it - meaning gameplay is split up by lots, and lots, and lots of little cutscenes to show paths locking, paths opening up, new enemies appearing, showing that all enemies have been destroyed, etc..  Because of this, combat is broken up into 30-60-second chunks with brief cutscenes in-between.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing - the Devil May Cry series does the exact same thing - but I do wish there was more uninterrupted combat and less pointlessly showing you stuff. 

The game does have decent replay value, at least.  There are five playable characters - Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Sideswipe, and Grimlock - and all of them play differently from each other and have unique special abilities.  In a bit of a strange fit of convenience, all of the characters level up evenly as you play through the game whether you use them or not.  This is nice as it allows you to switch characters more freely since you don't have to worry that another character won't be as strong as your main.  It doesn't diminish the replay value significantly, either, as you still need to play through the game as each character to earn achievements and in doing so all 5 will be crazy powerful by the end.

  At which point you'll be powerful enough to tackle the higher difficulty levels, which in turn give you more loot / XP which make you more powerful, etc..  If the pacing of the story mode is a turn off, there is also a series of unlockable challenges that are pure combat and can get pretty difficult. 

Transformers Devastation is pretty short, but it is a game you are meant to play through more than once.  If you only play it once and think you're done, you're doing it wrong (and also probably have never played a Platinum game before, ya big phonies...).  You learn to play better as you go, which makes the combat more fun.

  The higher difficulties test your skills and make you strive to get better.  The more you play, the more moves you get and more powered up the characters are.  If you only play through a game like this once, you aren't really seeing the real game.

Gameplay

You should be motivated to play it more than once anyway since the combat is so darn good.  Unlike previous Transformers games that were mostly shooters, Transformers Devastation is mainly a melee-focused beat-em-up.  You do occasionally use a gun to shoot a collectible or blast a Seeker out of the air or something, but for the most part this game is about using fists and swords and axes and cool melee weapons. 

Similar to games like Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising, Devastation has light and heavy attacks - different combinations result in different attacks - and dodges and parries for defense.  In combat you get into a rhythm of attacking and dodging at the proper time in order to do maximum damage.  Dodge at the wrong time, however, and you leave yourself open for the enemy to wail on you for a while instead.  You also have vehicle / dino attacks where you transform into your character's alt mode for a brief special attack that are worked into combos as well.  There are also massive super moves for each character that clear out whole arenas, but they take a while to charge up.  Learning the rhythm of attacking and defending is a ton of fun, and when it all comes together smoothly Transformers Devastation is pretty fantastic to watch.

Between combat encounters there are some mild platforming sections or areas where you'll have to transform into vehicle mode to move faster and cover more ground quickly.  The focus really is on the combat, though, and the rest of the game is pretty bland.  The environments are also surprisingly limited with the whole game taking place in only a handful of areas that are re-used over and over again.  When you have to crank out a game as fast as possible for someone like Activision, though, this is the kind of compromise that has to be made.  Thankfully, the gameplay makes up for the lack of level variety.

One final aspect of the gameplay is that there is actually a loot and crafting system here.  As you play, enemies drop weapons and loot and items that you can then equip to your character and use.  You can also combine weapons to create new and more powerful versions of them.  None of this is explained very well, however, so it can be hard to figure out.  On top of that, even when you power up a weapon and the rising power numbers seem like they should be better, none of that really translates in-game.  You never feel like you're actually more powerful and the gameplay doesn't ever really change.  Its almost like the whole loot system is just a big placebo.  You can buy a handful of new moves with credits you earn in the game, however, and these do at least change how you play a bit. 

Graphics & Sound

While the combat is a ton of fun, the presentation is arguably Transformers Devastation's strongest aspect.

  The cel-shaded visuals look spectacular and really make the bright colors and G1 character designs pop.  The animation is also really, really good as well.  Just watching characters transform is a joy, and their moves during combat are smoothly connected and impressive to watch.  The game just looks great.

It sounds great as well.  Not all of the voice G1 voice cast is still around, unfortunately, but the stand-ins (along with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker in their iconic roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron / Soundwave) do a pretty good job.  The classic transformation sound effect is in place as well.  The best part is that the music is just stupidly freaking amazing, though.  It is all rock and metal, but it really pumps you up for the action scenes and boss fights and sounds really, really good.

Bottom Line

All in all, Transformers Devastation is a pretty solid game all around.  A little more time in the over to flesh out the loot and crafting system a bit better and put together some more environmental assets would have been nice, but with presentation this nice and gameplay this well done it is hard to be too disappointed.  Likewise, while the story is a little on the short side, there is a decent amount of replay value here so I can't complain too much.  It is a Platinum action game - you're supposed to play it multiple times to really see it all.  Platinum Games will enjoy it and Transformers fans both young and old will love it as well.  Transformers Devastation is definitely worth a look.